Bread to Birds ©  (coming of age feature script excerpt) Finalist for Sundance Screenwriters Lab 2009 and 2010

INT. KENTUCKY FRIED CHICKEN KITCHEN - EVENING (continued)

He seems genuinely hurt by the remark and returns to his

breading duties. Dex bends down, picks up the slimy piece of

fat and tosses it to land perfectly against his neck.

          DEX (CONT'D)

   See? If you laid off the weed you

   could have cat-like reflexes and

   pinpoint accuracy, too.

She continues to gingerly traverse the floor. His laugh is

slow and late.

          DEX

   Look at me...I’m like a walking

   advertisement for a drug-free

   America.

Dex places her timecard into the slot.

Big Cathy counts the contents of frozen chicken crates

outside the walk-in cooler and records her findings onto a

clipboard.

          BIG CATHY

   Your Mom called during the rush,

   said bring chicken.

Dex rounds the corner and disappears into the employee

bathroom without acknowledgment of the information.


INT. MURPHY APARTMENT - LIVING ROOM - EVENING

The television blares in the tiny room. Knickknacks and tacky

trinkets of varying colors and sizes litter all available

surface space.

DARREN, 5, a small, anemic-looking kid with some serious

hair, is crashed on the couch. Dex sets down her back pack

and shuts the television off.

          MARGARET (O.S.)

          (Yelling)

   Christine, is that you?

Dex picks Darren up from the couch without protest and

carries him into


DARREN’S BEDROOM

The room is cave-like without windows. A day bed and small

dresser fill the room to capacity.

She places him in the bed and yanks off his filthy socks. She

places the covers over his otherwise fully clothed body.

          MARGARET (O.S.)

          (Louder)

          Christine?!

Darren stirs. Dex shuts her eyes and lets out a breath. Once

he is settled, she exits the room and closes the door.


INT. MARGARET’S BEDROOM

A hideous shade adorns the bedside lamp and cast the room in

green. Her patch of gray hair runs from the front of

MARGARET MURPHY, 38, fuzzy hairline toward the back, skunklike.

It is an unfortunate feature but certainly not the only

unattractive thing about her.

Dex leans against the door frame to contemplate the figure in

bed. Margaret is half-buried in a dizzying array of blankets

and throws. A cigarette dangles from her lips.

She reads The Examiner as Dex tries to decipher if her Mother

has just awoken from a nap or hasn’t yet gone to sleep.

          DEX

   You know he can’t keep falling

   asleep in front of the TV; that’s

   why he can’t get up for school in

   the morning.

          MARGARET

   Did you bring home some chicken?

She enters the room and picks up various newspapers and sale

circulars from the floor. Margaret crams the cigarette into

the crowded beanbag ashtray on the night stand.

          DEX

   No. Did he even go to school today?

She stuffs the papers into a full waste basket.

Margaret sits up and pouts.

          MARGARET

   Didn’t they tell you I called?

Dex stomps down on the garbage in the basket.

          DEX

   Mom, I can’t bring home leftover

   chicken unless I’m closing.

   Otherwise I have to pay for it.

Margaret makes a face and grabs for her Good & Plenty box of

candy from the night stand.

          MARGARET

   Well, I’m not a mind-reader,

   Christine. I thought you were

   closing.

She opens the box with care not to rip the tabs to prevent

resealing.

          MARGARET

   Darren had the sniffles and stayed

   home with me today.

Dex sighs and resumes straightening.

          DEX

   Did he eat?

          MARGARET

   We had toast.

She glares at her Mother and walks out of the room.

Margaret, oblivious, meticulously separates the white Good &

Plenty from the pink.


INT. MURPHY KITCHEN - LATER

Out of her uniform and hunched over a bowl of cereal, she

fingers the dozens of burn marks from unattended cigarettes

on the table top.

The SOUND of tick-tick-tick invades the noise of her Snap-

Crackle-Pop. Dex glares at the sunshine-faced clock on the

wall as if to challenge it to a staring contest.

She places her bowl in the sink. Her body is thin with bra

and underwear simply moving with her form. She is efficient

and strong.


INT. MARGARET’S BEDROOM

Dex is at the door again with a pillow case in hand.

          DEX

   I’m doing laundry tomorrow.

Margaret looks up from her MovieLine Magazine and quickly

uses it to cover her eyes.

          MARGARET

   Good, Lord, Christine! Put some

   clothes on.

          DEX

   You might wanna get those peepers

   checked.

She looks behind the door, removes a bra from the doorknob

and drops it into the sack.

          MARGARET

   What if Darren sees you? Go put on

   some shorts and a tee-shirt.

She drops to her knees and gathers various loose socks from

around the floor of the bed.

Dex reaches under the bed and pulls out a stray yellowed page

from The Star and an envelope.

          MARGARET

      (whispering loudly now)

   Christine...

The envelope is from St. Mary’s College addressed to

Christine Murphy.

          MARGARET

   ...you know he sometimes wakes up

   to use the bathroom...

Dex rests back on her heels to inspect the envelope. She

then sprawls flat and sweeps an arm long beneath the bed.

Several more letters addressed to her along with a

substantial amount of dust gather in the crook of her arm.

In an instant, she is on her feet and flings the letters at

her Mother.

          DEX

   What are you doing with these?

Margaret swiftly slides out of bed and away from Dex.

          DEX

   I told you before not to touch my

   mail.

          MARGARET

   Take it easy, Christine...let me

   explain.

Dex snatches the letters off the bed. Margaret motions to

help but Dex cuts her a look to keep her distance.

         DEX

   I am going to college. Do you got

   that? You can’t keep me here!

Dex strides to the door.

          MARGARET

   Well, what are we supposed to do?

Dex holds up the fistful of letters.

          DEX

   Keep this up and I won’t even stay

   through summer.

Margaret slumps back down into the bed.


EXT. WESTINGHOUSE HIGH SCHOOL - MORNING

Dex sprints from the city bus. A few STUDENTS mingle about

outside on the steps. Dex cuts across the grass and squeezes

behind the bushes. She hustles past the windows of two

classrooms in session before she arrives at her own.

Dex motions to a GUY inside. He watches the teacher until

she turns her back. He raises the window and helps Dex

inside.


INT. WESTINGHOUSE HIGH SCHOOL

Dex gets to her seat, sits down and lets out a breath,

winded. MS. RYDER, 29, retro beehive, makes note of her and

continues the lesson.


INT. STICK’S BASEMENT - NIGHT

From the look of the place, someone misses their Motherland.

Irish proverbs line the wall of the wood paneling in the dank

room. Glowing shamrocks hang from the ceiling near the makeshift

dance area. A few brave souls attempt to move to the

guitar-heavy music. The success rate is dismal.


The plastic leprechauns strung above the bar illuminate it

beautifully; bright enough that one can find their drink but

dim enough to mask the condition of their surroundings.

Sticks pours three healthy shots from behind the bar into

plastic cups. Dex, Tuna, and Sticks “clink” then slam their

drinks.

Tuna fake spits after she swallows.

          TUNA

   I had prepared myself for Irish

   Whiskey.

Dex gives Tuna a high-five.

          STICKS

   Poag Mahone, bitch.

Puzzled, she leans in for another listen.

          STICKS

   If you don’t like the free booze

   you can get out, bitch.

The back door opens and Twitch and her fiance, MICHAEL, 26,

dockers and a collared shirt, enter the party. Twitch waves

in the direction of the three at the bar. Dex gestures and

Tuna manages a nod.

          TUNA

   He seems kinda creepy to me.

Dex takes a pull off of her Old Style can.

          DEX

   You hate everyone.

Sticks sets up another round of shots.

          TUNA

   I’d say a large majority...

Dex rests her head on the end of the bar. Tuna lights a

joint, takes a hit and hands it to Sticks.

          TUNA

     (holding her breath)

   Are we boring you?

Dex speaks into the bar, her head still down.

 

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